Penn State Smeal hosts, Cameron co-leads new Online MBA Consortium

August 04, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students are demanding more flexibility and a wider variety of options than ever before in MBA programs, as well as in online education. The Penn State Smeal College of Business is a founding member of a group that is collaborating to find solutions to those challenges.

Brian Cameron, associate dean for Professional Graduate Programs at Smeal, and colleagues from the college recently hosted a two-day meeting of the Online MBA Consortium (OMC), which comprises the top 10 online MBA programs in the country: Penn State, University of Texas – Dallas, Temple, North Carolina State, Florida, Indiana, Auburn, Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, and North Carolina.

“As online MBA programs and online education becomes more mainstream, students are increasingly demanding more flexibility, a wider variety of options, and connectivity to residential programs,” Cameron said.

“We’re competitors but we share the same problems. By coming together as a group, we are able to share best practices and ideas for formulating solutions to an evolving set of challenges.”

During the two days in Penn State’s Business Building, the group attempted to arrive at solutions to three common problems:

  • How to scale instruction to accommodate demand with limited faculty resources while maintaining a high-quality student experience
  • How to market efficiently to a more discerning pool of students
  • How to incorporate different pedagogical models — asynchronous vs. synchronous

Cameron said the group shared two productive days and has already planned for next steps in the process. The members are conducting a survey of other institutions that offer online MBA programs. It plans to report its findings at the 2017 MBA Roundtable Curricular Innovation Symposium on Oct. 5-6 at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The Online MBA Consortium is partnering with the MBA Roundtable, an established global association of business schools whose mission is to advance graduate management education through MBA curricular and co-curricular innovation. The OMC and MBA Roundtable have agreed to add a day and a half to the beginning of the symposium dedicated to online education and the online MBA where the survey findings and results will be shared.

“One of the goals of the Online MBA Consortium is to help guide the evolution of the online MBA. Residential MBA programs have evolved, too, so it’s natural for our group to partner with one of the most recognized residential MBA organizations,” said Cameron, who is on the planning committees of both parts of the symposium. “As part of that process, we discuss possible connecting points to residential programs to add flexibility and curriculum options.”

The redesigned Penn State Online MBA Program, led by the Smeal College of Business, launches the week of Aug. 14 at University Park. During the one-week residency, held at the Penn Stater Conference Center, students will begin the Team Performance course with Glen Kreiner, online MBA faculty chair. Students also will have opportunities during the week to engage with their classmates, staff and faculty and learn more about the resources available to them as Penn State students.

The three-part ICE framework, a teaching and learning approach that incorporates the principles of integration, collaboration and engagement, will be introduced. ICE serves as the defining spirit of the Smeal-led Online MBA and shapes the overall design and implementation of its curriculum and students' learning experience.

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Last Updated October 23, 2017